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A Travel Guide to Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union

A Travel Guide to Urbiztondo, La Union

La Union may not be the surfing capital of the Philippines, but due to its relatively proximity to NCR, it tends to be more popular and frequently visited local destination (not to mention that's it's more affordable than booking a flight to Siargao). It’s also home to an emerging beach-party culture, and a refuge for those suffering mild to severe broken-heartedness. 

Surfer's Village, Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union

How to Get to Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
There are bus lines/terminals scattered around Metro Manila that will take you to La Union. The one we availed was Partas bus line in Pasay. We took the night schedule departing at 11:00 PM (one way ticket costs about P700). This price is as of 2024, so do take into account inflation when reading this. 

Booking a ride via Klook
I just did a quick search in Klook, and you can also book a ride there. It's much more convenient since you won't have to queue up for a ticket. Just recently, I was able to personally test this one, and we booked our tickets using Klook. The process was smooth, and we didn't need to queue up to buy tickets. Very convenient!

Joiners Tour
One common alternative for you to reach La Union is via joiners tour. There are tons of Facebook Page catering to this, but just make sure to read the reviews for legit-check. Beware of scams! Joiners tour is commonly an all-in-one package wherein the fee is on a per pax basis. This fee is inclusive already of the transportation (normally via van), accommodation and meals. 

How long was the travel?
We arrived in Sebay, San Juan, La Union at about 5:00 AM, with the entire trip taking approximately 6 hours. Other schedules especially those in the afternoon might take more than 6 hours due to traffic. Hence, if you're comfortable sleeping in the bus, the night schedules are more advisable.

Surfing in Urbiztondo Beach, La Union

Catching La Union’s wave
Before anything else, La Union’s popularity was primarily built upon the conduciveness of its beaches for surfing. Hence, if you are into the sport, La Union really stands out as a quick getaway (approximately 5-6 hours away from Metro Manila, depending on your location of origin).

Barkada getaway/vacation in La Union

Thinking of finishing a book by the shore? Well, you may want to rethink that

No lounge chairs and cabanas
For non-surfers, the beach in itself is fine. You can enjoy the waves cradling you while getting all burned up under the sun. However, if you are the type of person who likes to be on the beach-side but doesn’t really enjoy getting all wet, La Union may be a source of disappointment. The shoreline is pretty basic (mostly sand and rocks). There are no cabanas to chill in and lounge chairs to sit on. Thinking of finishing a book by the shore? Well, you may want to rethink that. However, if you are okay just having a view of the shore from a nearby cafe/restaurant, that will definitely work for you!

Renz Cheng (www.wanderkidtravels) in San Juan, La UnionRenz Cheng (www.wanderkidtravels) in Urbiztondo, La Union

As a remedy, you may want to bring a beach towel (or blanket) with you, and perhaps even a beach umbrella (but who does that?). Hence, if chilling by the beach is what you like, there may be better alternatives than La Union. I suggest beaches along Laiya, Batangas (read more). However, if you like it just like how I described it, then you are in for adventure!

Evolving Party Culture in Urbiztondo, La Union

Evolving beach-party culture
La Union used to be known for a simple off-the-grid living, but that’s now being eroded by a newer wave of beach-party culture. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, though I’m not saying it’s good either. It’s pretty much neutral, and it’s for you to say.

The IG-monsters swarm in La Union to get trendy

Parties and gigs are spread around La Union. You can normally find them in roofdeck of hostels (or hostels in general). A popular establishment that embodies this new emerging culture is Flotsam Jetsam (read more). It’s where you can chill, dance and party with other beach-goers. 

A new wave of bars are also rising in La Union. Among them is an LGBTQIA+ friendly bar that goes by the name HARA. From time to time, especially on weekends, there are drag queens performing, so if that's within your interest, swing by this new hot spot! 

If this, however, is not your cup of tea, there are still parts of La Union that give that off-the-grid vibe. All you need to do is stay off from the tourist spots and go to the other parts of La Union.

Great Northwest trendy food park in La Union

...if good food is something you eye for, lower down your expectations when you visit La Union

Food specialty - still a work in progress
Although there are two key food parks in Urbiztondo, La Union (The Great Northwest and Beach Bum), there aren’t anything that really stood out yet. Most of the restos or food stalls focused more on making their dishes IG-worthy rather than palate-worthy. We also failed to discover any specialties that define La Union’s cuisine. Hence, if good food is something you eye for, lower down your expectations when you visit La Union.

Thankfully, La Union's coffee is a saving grace, and you can find great beans and coffee drinks around the place. If you want the best coffee, try to explore other than the usual trendy ones. My personal favorites are Timpla (found in Tavern by the Sea) and Clean Beach's Cold Brew.

Coffee drinkers in Elyu (La Union) -- El Union Coffee

I'm sharing as well the list of restaurants/stalls we visited during our stay as well for your reference:
  • El Navi 
  • Clean Beach (great all-day breakfast, fantastic coffee, good place to chill)
  • Sabong Fried Chicken (mostly hype, but they say you haven't been to Elyu if you haven't tried this chicken)
  • Kabsat (a bit regular food, but fantastic view of the sunset)
  • El Union Coffee (great coffee but closes early, normally before sunset)
  • Umi (great Japanese restaurant in La Union)
  • Flotsam & Jetsam
  • The Coffee Library (okay coffee, chill airconditioned place)
There! Hopefully this article was able to set your expectations right when you visit La Union. I personally had a very different expectation, and I wish could have known these things before we actually went to La Union.

Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union Quick Guide

Things to see/do: Surf the beach, attend gigs in hostels, party in Flotsam & Jetsam and be trendy in The Great Northwest food park

Budget needed: Approximately P6,000 as of 2024 for a three (3) day-stay in the area inclusive of the bus fare, accommodation, food and etc.

Is it wander-worthy? Yes, as long as you have the right expectation you will find paradise in this place, which is why I wrote this guide to prevent any disappointment

How to get there: There are multiple bus terminals in Metro Manila that has La Union as their destination. The one we particularly availed of is Partas bus line located in Pasay, Metro Manila near LRT - Edsa Station or MRT - Taft Station. Ticket costs P750 one-way as of 2024.

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